What is BIM?

Building Information Modelling (BIM)

The concept of planning and constructing a building collectively is nothing new – people were already beginning to take this approach and plan construction work virtually, using building models, back in the 1960s. Thanks to improved computing power and increased networking of all persons involved in the building work over the past few years, BIM has become a hotter topic, however. Building Information Modelling has moved things on from the proof-of-concept phase through to a workable method that is having an increasing amount of influence on the planning, construction and management of buildings worldwide.

The BIM process

Building Information Modelling (BIM) describes an integrated process for the planning, design, construction and operation of a building – the idea being that data is exchanged based on standards and agreements. The idea at the heart of the method is a central virtual business model (BIM model) that consists of different components (BIM objects). The components represent different parts of the building, such as walls, ceilings, doors or windows. Nearly all of the building is planned out and constructed on the building model before actually being implemented in reality.

BIM is actually much more than just the simple 3D drawings it is often compared to: Although 3D elements can be used to visualise the building model, BIM's added value actually lies in the fact that it creates an integrated building and planning process that brings together all the people involved in planning, constructing and operating a building and improves the exchange of data across all phases of the building work. The result is significant cost and time savings, as errors can be pre-empted and avoided, and ideas and design specifications can be communicated more effectively.

Data is exchanged between those involved in the project as a result, including when BIM objects are used. Characteristics and properties that make it possible to evaluate the BIM object in the building model in a variety of ways are assigned to each object. A few examples of this include calculating bills of quantities and costings, the planning of maintenance and service measures or calculation of key figures to design buildings to modern environmental standards (green theme).

User benefits

The BIM process will ideally cover the entire life cycle of a building. Depending on the phase, different people/systems will be the main users of BIM. Different benefits of BIM will come to the fore depending on the user.

  • Cost and time savings as it will be possible to identify and resolve planning issues at an early stage before they happen.
  • By using reliable component information from the manufacturer, it is possible to calculate realistic bills of quantities and costings at the very early phases of planning.
  • By using realistic 3D scenarios and high-resolution renderings from the building model directly, designs and ideas can be better visualised.
  • Fewer errors creep in when data is being transferred between systems/trades because interfaces and data descriptions are uniform.
  • Departmental planning systems are more compatible.

These points describe, without doubt, just some of the benefits that manufacturers, developers, planners and general contractors can expect to enjoy if they use BIM. Introducing a BIM process in offices or at companies can really help to optimise all processes.